Is Custard Apple(Sitaphal) good for Diabetics

Is Custard Apple(Sitaphal) good for Diabetics? 10 Health benefits

There is a common confusion in most diabetics about what to eat and what not to eat.

Doctors and nutritionists often prefer natural food items, mostly fruits, and vegetables. Custard apple is a pretty good choice in this case.

It is native to South America (known as Cherimoya), West Indies, and some parts of Asia. Typically grows in tropical areas with high altitude in a small deciduous tree.

Various names throughout India know custard apples. Sitaphal in Hindi and Gujarati, Seetha pazham in Tamil, Sita pazham in Malayalam, Seetha palam in Telugu, Sharifa in Punjabi, sitaphal in Marathi, atta phal in Bengali, etc.

This fruit is filled with a creamy texture and fiber content surrounded by numerous seeds. It has a sweet taste and is full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

These nutrients of custard apple render the benefits of different genres. There are some myths that custard apples can increase blood sugar rapidly and negatively affect diabetes.

But it is scientifically proven that custard apple or sitaphal can deal with diabetes directly and indirectly. It is a low glycemic fruit.

It is said that the skin and seeds have some toxic effects. So, eat carefully.

Custard apple in Diabetes 

Custard apple in Diabetes 

Sitaphal has a glycemic index of 54. So it is in the low glycemic category. However, it has a high glycemic load of 10. It means that eating this fruit should be in moderation, if you have diabetes.

Low glycemic fruits are one of the best snack options. Custard apples are rich in nutrients and have several antidiabetic potentials. So you don’t need to hesitate about eating them.

Custard apples can produce stimulatory effects on the pancreatic beta cells. Thus they have more insulin.

Regular eating of custard apples can increase the muscular uptake of glucose. So peripheral utilization of glucose is enhanced.

Vitamin C has a revolutionary potential to stimulate the production of insulin and thus control blood glucose.

About 20 mg vitamin C is present in 100 gm of custard apple, which provides 60% of its daily recommended value. This high content of vitamin C will reduce blood sugar.

Also, the magnesium, potassium, iron indirectly affect insulin production and thus control blood sugar.

If you are familiar with a custard apple’s appearance, you will see a lot of fibers in it. Eating them can cause slow digestion and absorption of other carbohydrate foods and keep the sugar level low.

Diabetic food choices are also dependent on some nutritional indicators such as glycemic index, glycemic load, calorie count, etc.

Custard apples are mostly low in all categories. I will be discussing them in upcoming topics. So it will not affect blood glucose devastatingly.

In this way, the blood glucose remains controlled. These can manage and prevent the risk of type 2 diabetes.

You should not skip other steps ( exercise, medicines, regular nutritious diet) of diabetes management.

People with diabetes will get the most benefits when they eat all types of food in a measured amount. This saying goes for a sitaphal also. So, you must have to determine the size of the portion and serve.

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Glycemic index (GI)  and Glycemic Load (GL: 

These are determinants of postprandial hyperglycemia. Fruits usually have low glycemic indices.

The Glycemic index is the evidence of the speed of blood glucose elevation after a carbohydrate meal compared to the same amount of glucose or white bread.

Range:

  • 0-55(low)
  • 56-69(moderate)
  • 70 or above(high)

Glycemic load refers to the carbohydrate amount of food. The glycemic index is multiplied by the carb content and then divided by 100.

Range:

  • 0-10(low)
  • 11-19(moderate)
  • 20 or over(high)

The importance of carb content will be missed if you consider the GI value singly. GL value will lead to control of the portion size.

The glycemic load of a 100gm serving of sitaphal is 10. Here, the glycemic load value is also in the low category.

These two values of custard apple again prove the validity of eating them in diabetic people.

Custard apple: Nutrition 

Custard apple: Nutrition 

Serving: 100 gm

Total calorie: 94 kcal 

NutrientsNutritional ValuePercent(%) daily value( based on a 2000calorie diet)
Total carbohydrates24 g8%
Dietary fibers4.4 g17%
Protein2.1 g4%
Total fat0.3 g0%
Cholesterol0 mg0%
Sodium9 mg<1%
Potassium247 mg7%
Magnesium18 mg5%
Calcium30 mg2%
Iron0.71 mg3%
Vitamin A33 IU0%
Vitamin B60.221 mg10%
Vitamin C19.2 mg60%
Riboflavin0.100 mg8%

 There are more traces of nutrients, but in minimal amounts.

These nutrients make it worth eating, and the calorie value is also tolerable for diabetics.

How much custard apple can you eat a day? 

You should eat the right amount in the right way. 

A medium-sized fruit measuring about 100 mg is enough a day. 

10 Health benefits of Sitaphal or Custard apple

10 Health benefits of Sitaphal or Custard apple

As it has a creamy consistency, usually eaten with a spoon and served chilled like a custard, it is named so.

You must know the benefits and side effects of anything you eat as a part of health awareness. I have already discussed the antidiabetic benefits.

Now, I am mentioning ten other health-related benefits of custard apple below-

  1. Improves heart health: A balanced amount of sodium, potassium, and magnesium is necessary for the heart.

High blood pressure(hypertension)is responsible for developing different heart and brain diseases.

Low sodium and high potassium contents can control blood pressure within a desirable range. High blood pressure produces a risk of cardiovascular disease. By eating custard apples, high blood pressure can be managed.

The magnesium level in custard apples is also noticeable. This can cause the relaxation of the heart’s smooth muscles and thus prevent the risks of heart disease.

  1. Improves fatigue: A 100 gram serving of sitaphal provides 94-kilo calories. You can see the high amount of energy value in such a small serving.

Many diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and even excess work make a person tired quickly. Eating custard apples daily can improve this condition without any notable side effects.

  1. Natural mood booster: Custard apple is a rich source of the vitamin B complex.

Some neurotransmitters -GABA(gamma-aminobutyric acid), serotonin, and dopamine, are proven to control our emotions like depression, irritability, happiness, stress, etc.

Vitamin B6 and other vitamins of the vitamin B complex are responsible for controlling these neurotransmitters.

Eating custard apples can effectively stabilize your mood.

  1. Visual improvement: Antioxidant-rich custard apple helps to fight with free radicals and prevents damage to cells.
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In this way, riboflavin and vitamin C keep the cells of the eyes free from damage and ensure better eyesight.

Also, there is lutein evidence, another antioxidant, which can prevent cataract and age-related macular degeneration. Sitaphal is a source of lutein.

  1. Improve digestive function: Custard apple is beneficial in both diarrhea and constipation.

It contains a considerable amount of fibers. These add bulk to the stool and prevent constipation. Also, the copper content of the sitaphal affects the improving constipation.

Crushed powder of dried custard apple pulp is mixed with water and acts as a tonic to control diarrhea.

Also, a sitaphal provides some short-chain fatty acids after fermentation. These prevent inflammatory bowel disease.

  1. Aids maintain healthy skin and hair:  The vitamins and minerals of custard apples can rejuvenate skin and hair. They have moisturizing and anti-aging properties.

The compounds of sitafal delays the breakdown of collagen and thus prevent forming fine lines and wrinkles.  The pulp is used in Ayurveda to treat boils and ulcers.

  1. Prevent inflammation in the body: Custard apples can improve many inflammatory conditions by their antioxidant compounds.

Rheumatoid arthritis, gout cause extreme pain in the joints. The problem occurs due to inflammation.

Custard apples, along with regular treatment, can produce an excellent effect.

The magnesium content of the sitaphal can remove acids from the joints and maintain water balance in the body. Thus it can control the pain.

It is believed that the leaves also have some effects on controlling inflammation.

  1. Damage cancer cells: There are some antioxidants named catechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin present in custard apple. Test tube studies have proved that these are anti-cancerous.

These components can prevent the growth and development of cancer cells. Eating custard apples can also control the onset of some cancers.

  1. Anemia correction: The nutrients of custard apple(iron, vitamin C, vitamin B complex) can act as hematinics and expectorants. In anemia, there is a low hemoglobin level, and oxygen transportation throughout the body is hampered.

Here, hematinics can improve hemoglobin contents and correct anemia.

  1. Enhance immunity: Immunity is directly related to vitamin C. Custard apple is an abundant source of vitamin C.

This component helps to fight with the foreign pathogens and prevents the infection from developing further. Thus a person can effectively deal with any illness without effective medications.

Apart from these, custard apples are beneficial for pregnant mothers and fetuses. Those who want to put on some weight can also be benefited by eating a sitaphal.

Research findings about the benefits of custard apple:

Research findings about the benefits of custard apple

★ A review of 8 different studies refers to a 27% lower risk of cataract and macular degeneration in individuals with high blood levels of lutein than those with low levels.

★ There is a review of the effect of potassium on lowering blood pressure.

If anyone takes the recommended dietary intake(RDI) level of potassium ( 4700 mg), it will decrease both the systolic and diastolic pressure by 8 and 4 mm of Hg(approx.), respectively.

★ A review of 10 studies says that regular magnesium intake can reduce high blood pressure risk by up to 8%.

★ A test-tube study showed some catechins’ capability to stop the growth of breast cancer cells up to 100%.

★ Another study regarding the low growth and replication of the bladder cancer cells due to the treatment with epicatechin.

★ An animal study found that mice fed with epicatechin reduce inflammatory marker C- reactive protein(CRP).

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★A human study observed the positive effects of vitamin C in reducing the duration of the common cold.

All the antioxidants and other nutrients that bring about changes are found in custard apples in plenty.

Some side effects of custard apple, you should know:

Some side effects of custard apple

Some studies have shown the toxic and poisonous effects of the se eds and skin.

Annonacin, a toxic compound found in skin and seeds, is responsible for some serious adverse effects in the brain and nervous system. Parkinsonism may occur from this.

So you must carefully peel off the skin and remove the seeds before eating custard apple. The persons with parkinsonism should avoid eating sitaphal.

Besides this, custard apples can increase weight. So people with diabetes should eat this after a logical calculation of calories.

Ways of eating sitaphal:

Ways of eating sitaphal

  • It is mostly eaten raw, cutting into slices and serving with a spoon.
  • You can also eat a sitaphal by adding them with yogurt, oatmeal, and salads.
  • You can blend it to make healthy smoothies and use it to make ice creams.

Takeaway message: 

Sitaphal or custard apple

Sitaphal or custard apple is found all over India and other countries. This rounded, oval, or heart-shaped fruit with several indentations is very potent.

Health-conscious people are fond of it. You can quickly get them in super shops.

Usually, sweet fruits have high amounts of GI, and therefore, their consumption is minimized in people with diabetes. But custard apple is in the range of low glycemic index and tastes sweet at the same time.

So it may be a great alternative to processed sugars in many food items. The tremendous antioxidant contents of the sitaphal provide numerous benefits to our health.

The myths regarding the benefits of custard apples are mostly fake. But it would help if you had to keep in mind about the proper peeling and removing seeds to avoid unnecessary side effects.

So eat this natural, chemical-free fruit in a measured portion and be healthy

References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29933016/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29973884/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26184167/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30151067/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27558166/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31708869/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29080611/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32483211/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29425747/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31350736/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32362311/
Dr Sharon Baisil MD

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